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Napster's Cleaner Image

Remember the bad old days when music was free? OK, it was hugely illegal to download those tracks from all of the P2P tools on the market. And what was the point? Most of the tracks you downloaded cut out five seconds before the song finished or else their MP3 tags were so jumbled that you could never find any music.

Back in those days, the ruler of the roost was Napster. With the geeky creation and the quirky logo (a cat's head—brilliant!), Napster caught the ire of the RIAA, which brought down dozens of fines on unwitting users. The legacy of Napster still lives on with products such as LimeWare and Kazaa.

Napster disappeared for a long time. Now it is back. It is still sporting its trendy icon, but now has a cleaner image (you could say it did time and saw the error of its ways). Now, Napster is a monster online store of legal downloads. There are two ways to listen to music with Napster: You can buy and own tracks as you do with iTunes, or you can rent tracks.

The renting idea is popular with all online music stores except iTunes. The idea is that you can listen to the music on your computer (and soon on your MP3 player), but you can't burn the music to a CD. The cost for this service? Either a flat fee of around $20 per month or 1 penny per track. Sure beats 99 cents.

The only problem is that this service hasn't really taken off. It may be awhile before we get used to listening to rented music.

The good news about Napster is that you can play music from Napster on dozens of MP3 players. Except one: iPod doesn't work with Napster. Too bad, so sad.

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